Men’s basketball falls in season opener, 74-71

FNU men’s basketball comes up short against Warner, 74-71 graphic.
Men’s basketball falls in season opener, 74-71. (Oct. 27, 2023)

(Box Score)

LAKE WALES, Fla. ( Oct. 27, 2023) – Florida National University’s men’s basketball team (0-1) has seen this film before, as the Conquistadors fell in their season opener to the Warner University Royals (1-0) 74-71 Friday. The Conquistadors opened the 2022-23 season in a similar fashion against the Sun Conference Royals, losing 76-65 on October 28, 2022. FNU’s revenge tour in Lakes Wales, Fla., did not go according to plan, with Florida National dropping its third straight contest to Warner dating back to 2020.

In the first half, Florida National couldn’t guard the Royals without sending them to the free-throw line. FNU played the last eight minutes of the period in the bonus and the Royals capitalized, going 11-14 from the charity stripe. Notably, FNU’s breakout star of the half was newcomer and NCAA DI transfer Ray Daniel Parrish. Parrish went 3-6 from the field and ended the half with nine points, three rebounds and an assist. 

Despite a brilliant performance from Parrish and seven solid points from Cameron Johnson, FNU trailed 38-31. The Royals drilled five out of 18 three-pointers attempted while FNU was struggling from long distance, connecting on just one of nine shots. Warner’s Christian Nurse and true freshman Skyler Scrull combined for 15 points as both teams headed back to the drawing board for the second half. 

FNU clawed its way back from a 12-point deficit early in the second and went on to take a 48-46 lead on a couple of made free throws from Matthew Robinson. But the Royals hung around, eventually resting the lead on a clutch three by Scrull to make it a 57-54 ball game. Parrish had six huge points late in the half. A clutch corner three from Robinson made this a nail-bitter down the stretch. 

Out of a timeout, Parrish attacked the rim for a three-point play that tied the game at 69-69. But Warner’s veteran guard Blaize Darling Jr. put up four unanswered points to put his team back in front. What truly iced the game for FNU was poor shooting from the free-throw line. The Conquistadors missed eight attempts from the line while Warner went 3-1 in the final minutes for a hard-earned win. 

Parrish led all scorers with 22 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four assists. Robinson posted two blocks and 15 points, while Johnson ended the night with 10 points and eight boards.

Up Next: FNU’s debut week continues tomorrow with a 7:30 p.m. game on the road versus Webber International. 

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